The National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH) is immersed in a historical research project entitled "Memories of Water in Cuba", which in turn has a permanent working group of the same name. The working group was created in November 2022 and pursues the following objectives:
- To carry out research on the development of Hydraulics in Cuba, to serve as support for the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources, State entities and the Government of the Republic of Cuba and non-governmental entities in the development of plans and programmes aimed at the preservation, awareness and dissemination of land water management throughout history in the formation and development of Cuban society.
- To disseminate the legacy of the country's treasured water heritage.
- To disseminate the different forms of water management throughout history, in order to contribute to a culture of efficient and productive use.
- Identify the major hydraulic engineering works that have been built in Cuba.
- Describe the different spaces linked to water management in Havana and their relationship with the development of the city.
- To mobilise institutions and citizens with communication campaigns to promote a "new water culture".
The project has three strategic lines of work: The Water Routes, the Initiative to incorporate the Albear Aqueduct in the Global Network of Water Museums (WAMU-NET) and the Hydraulic Memories.
The Albear Aqueduct is an impressive engineering work built in Havana in the second half of the 19th century, named after the distinguished engineer Don Francisco de Albear y Fernández de Lara who conceived it. It is considered one of the most outstanding works of its time in the world and currently provides between 12-15% of the water supplied to Havana, being a work of vital importance for the supply of water to the city.
Due to its majesty as a work of engineering, it is considered one of the seven wonders of civil engineering in Cuba and has the status of National Monument.
This work owes its name to the distinguished engineer Don Francisco de Albear y Fernández de Lara, who was commissioned by the Captain General of the island to design an aqueduct that would provide a solution for the adequate supply of San Cristóbal de La Habana, which had a population of 100,000 inhabitants in the middle of the 19th century. Until that time, the city depended mainly on the water supply from the Zanja Real (Royal Ditch), which was an uncovered canal approximately 10 km long, which as the population grew, the quality of the water became poorer, causing illnesses, and later from the Fernando VII Aqueduct, concluded in 1835, which also failed to satisfy the growing demand for water from the inhabitants.
Nevertheless, in 1855, the Captain of Engineers Don Francisco de Albear y Fernández de Lara presented a report on the Project for the conduction of water from the springs of Vento to San Cristóbal de La Habana, projecting an aqueduct system that included the collection of water from the springs, the layout of the canal to the deposits of Palatino, the possibilities of using the previous aqueducts and the calculations of the water supply for the city.
Its impressive state of conservation of the work, as well as the masterly engineering solutions provided in this project, the integrity with the environment, even in the smallest details, explains whys it was visited since ancient times by many engineering figures, as well as by politicians, scientists, students and children, especially in guided visits.
Visiting the Museum of the Legendary Albear Aqueduc, you can live a unique experience, starting at the fountain known as the Taza de Vento, observe the more than 400 springs, walk along the Almendares Siphon, visit the 24 cylindrical towers and the 3 square towers along the 9.6 kilometres of the Canal and end at the tanks known as Tanques de Palatino.
Considering all these aspects and the need to promote a new water culture, starting from an aqueduct system in operation for more than 130 years, we propose to increase and further direct the activities that are developed in it by creating a water museum that includes knowledge of the history of the aqueduct, as well as activities to promote water culture. Among the most significant activities carried out at the site in recent years are the visits of delegations from different countries, as well as engineers and students of hydraulics, water culture promotion activities are carried out, which include a tour of the site and then a camping on site developing games and educational classes to promote water culture and hygiene, being very well received by students, circles of interest and the Children's Friendly Water project.